Facing human interconnections: Thinking International Relations into the future

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Communities on the planet are faced with complex challenges: changing relations within and between human communities, changing relations with ecological and climatic conditions, and shifts in technology-human interconnections. The complex interconnections across issue areas – migration, environmental degradation and new technologies, for example – demand that scholars increasingly think across theories, paradigms, specialisms and disciplines. But how should we ‘hold things together’ as we try to make sense of complex realities in International Relations (IR)? This introductory article to the Special Issue ‘Facing human interconnections: thinking International Relations into the future’ discusses the open thematic of ‘human interconnections’ that is used to loosely structure the contributions. Analysis of human interconnections, as understood here, does not have a precise or fixed definition but is considered an open-ended notion with varied meanings and dimensions. Indeed, the authors engage it here in varied ways to explore their empirical, theoretical and political concerns. Yet, this notion also allows for interesting new questions to be posed on the potential and limits of IR as it faces the future, and debates around how we see interconnections between issue areas and ‘-isms’, how IR constructs ‘humans’ or ‘non-humans’ in interconnections, and what is at stake in bringing to our attention unacknowledged interconnections. Here we set out why human interconnection is an interesting notion to work with and why we need to keep its meaning open-ended. We also provide an account of six different orientations we observe amongst the authors tackling the dynamics of human interconnections in this Special Issue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-289
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Relations
Issue number3
Early online date08 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 01 Sept 2020


  • Interconnection
  • Human
  • Non-human
  • Global challenges
  • International Relations discipline
  • Futures
  • global challenges
  • interconnection
  • futures
  • human
  • non-human


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